Real Estate

With more than 60 lawyers situated in seven offices, our Real Estate Practice Group is able to provide clients a breadth and depth of legal experience that is national in scope and matches our commitment to the highest level of client service. We represent clients for which real estate is their primary business, such as developers, landlords, lenders, investors and property managers. We also represent clients for which real estate is an important asset, including manufacturing companies, professional services organizations, retailers, senior living facilities, hospitals and universities. Clients look to us for structuring commercial real estate projects involving complex, interdisciplinary issues ranging, for example, from risk of environmental claims, to compliance with corporate, securities and other regulatory laws, to minimization of tax liability.

Our practice encompasses the following services:

  • Investment and Finance 
  • Leasing 
  • Development 
  • Land Use and Zoning 
  • Nonprofit Institutions 
  • Business Advisory

Real Estate Professionals

Our real estate lawyers are well known for their capabilities. Many of our real estate lawyers are recognized as leaders in the real estate legal and business communities and are members of legal and industry groups including the International Council of Shopping Centers, Urban Land Institute, CREW Network, National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, and National Association of College and University Attorneys. Our lawyers frequently serve as members of faculty and lecturers at seminars and educational institutions. Three of our partners are members of the prestigious American College of Real Estate Lawyers.

Citing the firm’s early 2007 combination with Chicago-based Gardner Carton & Douglas, the 2007 Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Business Lawyers notes the strengths of the Drinker Biddle & Reath real estate practice as including “a highly respected Midwest-based team of lawyers [providing] a strong complement to existing strengths on the East Coast, along with enhancing national relationships in commercial and retail development and leasing, as well as many corporate property portfolio management and real estate investor and REIT representations.”

Additional Real Estate Services

Whether real estate is their primary business, or an important asset, our clients regularly require unique services related to their real estate holdings. Our experience enables us to advise our clients on the following matters:

Construction and Professional Services Contracts
Our lawyers routinely prepare construction contracts and professional services contracts, such as architectural and engineering services agreements, with a view toward clarifying the respective rights and responsibilities of the parties, and minimizing the risks to our clients. For a number of our clients, we have developed standard form construction and design agreements for use in multiple projects. When disputes arise, we strategize with our clients to resolve the dispute, whether by utilizing alternative dispute resolution methods such as arbitrations and mediation, or by litigation with experienced construction litigators.

Common Interest Projects
Our lawyers are experienced in structuring and creating condominium and other common interest projects, both residential and commercial. We are experienced in utilizing condominium regimes, sometimes in tandem with ground leases, to facilitate separate financings of multiple buildings for projects on a single parcel.

Property Management
As a natural outgrowth of our investment and leasing practice, our landlord clients regularly seek our advice on a variety of issues arising in connection with the management of their assets. We team with other firm lawyers to assist our clients with landlord-tenant disputes, tenant bankruptcy questions, labor issues, insurance matters, vendor contracts and environmental concerns.

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Our commitment to diversity at Drinker Biddle reflects our belief that by more accurately reflecting our clients and our communities, we are more effectively positioned to understand their needs and objectives, in all their many facets.

Creativity, innovation, cooperation and mutual respect are the natural result of an environment in which individual contributions are valued, where biases based on race, gender and other factors are absent, and legal knowledge combines with unique world views. Drinker Biddle has always had a commitment to civility and respect for all, and this is reflected in our core values and business strategy. We embrace an evolving and tolerant firm culture, one that is eager to engage and include colleagues from a wide range of backgrounds.

Diversity Committee

Our Firmwide Diversity Committee is charged with ensuring our firm reflects the rich diversity of the communities and clients we serve. As such, one of the committee’s primary objectives is to proactively recruit, retain, promote to partner and foster the professional development of talented minority lawyers. The committee is co-chaired by one of our most senior partners, Neil Haimm, and Jesse Ruiz, one of the country’s most energetic and talented Latino lawyers. More broadly, the committee is charged with implementing various programs and processes in the Diversity Strategic Plan, including (but not limited to) recruiting, retention, assignment management and overall associate development.

We also have established Regional Diversity Committees that can concentrate on our diversity goals at the local level. Most have established working groups that concentrate on the areas of hiring, retention and development, marketing and client development, and staff alignment and initiatives.


The firm’s commitment to diversity is demonstrated by its many efforts to recruit minority law school graduates and experienced lawyers. We regularly help coordinate and participate in a number of minority attorney recruitment programs. Members of our hiring committee and recruitment staff travel to law schools around the country, meeting with first-year minority students to increase interest in the firm’s Summer Associate program and conducting interviews with graduating students for our associate positions.

Further, the firm regularly offers time, money and other resources to help support and encourage minority students as they pursue their educational and professional goals. We work with student groups at various law schools to provide mentoring and financial assistance. We sponsor scholarships given annually to deserving minority law students by the Hispanic Lawyers Scholarship Fund of Illinois and the Cook County Bar Association, and we sponsor scholarships and paid internships for deserving minority students at the newly formed Drexel University School of Law in Philadelphia.

In addition, resources are dedicated to ensure that our diversity commitment is reflected in our hiring practices. A few of our efforts include participating in minority job fairs nationally (Vault/MCCA Job Fair, Cook County Minority Job Fair, Philadelphia Area Minority Job Fair, etc.), committing to hire at least one summer associate through a minority-focused organization (Philadelphia Diversity Law Group), ensuring that our firm’s core interviewer group has a diverse constituency, insisting upon diverse representation in interview schedules, financially supporting minority law student organizations nationally (Black Lawyers Student Association, Latin American Student Association, ALIANZA), placing job postings on websites targeted to a diverse lawyer audience (MCCA, Hot, etc.) and holding outreach activities to meet minority candidates and foster minority hiring practices in various cities in which we maintain offices.

Sponsorship and Organization of Major Events

Drinker Biddle sponsors, organizes and participates in a variety of major events addressing issues important to women and minorities both in the legal profession and in the wider business communities that we serve. The following list is a sampling of recent events; you can also click here to see the events that the Diversity Committee has hosted:

  • American Conference on Diversity Humanitarian Dinner
  • Barrister’s Association of Philadelphia Annual Barrister’s Ball
  • California Minority Counsel Program 19th Annual Business Meeting
  • The Enterprise Center’s “Passing the Torch” Awards
  • Garden State Bar Association’s 33rd Anniversary Scholarship & Awards Gala
  • Hispanic Lawyers Scholarship Fund of Illinois Annual Awards
  • Hispanic National Bar Association National Convention 
  • Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund Annual Gala
  • National Association of Women Lawyers Annual Meeting
  • NBA/WLD “Celebration of Firsts” Awards
  • NBA Healthcare Law Symposium 2008
  • National South Asian Bar Association 5th Annual Convention
  • MCCA Midwest Region Diversity Dinner
  • MCCA Northeast Region Diversity Dinner
  • Philadelphia POWER Seminars and Dinner
  • Spanish Coalition for Jobs, Inc. Annual Awards
  • Villanova University School of Law 3rd Annual Diversity Symposium


Professional Development

Once a lawyer has joined our firm, our work is far from complete. A stable, supportive environment is critical to encouraging the exploration of professional interests and the ongoing development of legal skills.

The firm has established varied mentoring programs: a peer integration mentor is assigned for every new associate’s first year at the firm, a Diversity Committee Watch Program has been put into place (minority associates are tracked to ensure that they are given ample opportunity to work on our most significant matters and clients) and a voluntary “opt-in” mentor program in which associates select their own mentors among partners has been initiated.